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Battle of Tazewell, Tennessee
August 6, 1862
As Reported by Col. John F. DeCourcey, 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Web Author's Notes:
The 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, as part of Col. John F. DeCourcey's 26th Brigade, marched south from their stronghold at Cumberland Gap toward the small town of Tazewell, Tennessee, on August 2, 1862. The purpose of their expedition was to find and acquire forage and supplies for the Federal garrison holding Cumberland Gap. During several days of foraging and extended trips further south of Tazewell, some periodic skirmishes with Rebel cavalry were encountered but the troops were successful in filling their wagons with much needed food and hay for their animals. Col. DeCourcey knew a large Confederate force was camped south of the Clinch River, not too distant from Tazewell, however, did not anticipate any major engagement would take place. On the Wednesday morning of August 6, however, DeCourcey would be confronted by a vastly superior Rebel force.

There exists a number of detailed accounts of the Battle of Tazewell. As with all such events, the accounts differ, somewhat, and certain facts told by each are inconsistent. However, by reading each account one can eventually gain a rather clear picture of the actions and movements that occurred that warm summer day, 15 miles south of Cumberland Gap.

The following is a brief account of the Battle of Tazewell as reported by Col. John F. DeCourcey, 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and commander of the 26th Brigade at Tazewell, Tennessee:

On the 6th, however, my advance posts, composed of the Sixteenth Ohio, were very suddenly attacked by a very superior force, which I afterward discovered was under the command of General Stevenson, and which I have every reason to believe, from the reports of the enemy stud from our own officers, prisoners in their hands, was composed of about 90,000 men, with a large amount of artillery. This force we held in check on the 6th of August from 11 o'clock a.m. till half past 3 p.m., when they retreated from my front, and merely continued an artillery fire until 6 in the evening, when I made my return to the Gap unmolested or without even an attempt being made by the enemy to follow me.

The expeditions under my command proceeded in a due southerly direction as far as Tazewell and operated around that town. On the second expedition to Tazewell I operated in a zone of about 8 miles east and west of Tazewell, and on two occasions approached to within 1 mile of the Clinch River. On the last expedition I encountered the enemy every day and forced him from my front until I was attacked by Stevenson, as already stated in my deposition. I went south about 15 miles from Cumberland Gap.

Col. John Fitzroy DeCourcey
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